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Investing in at-risk youth in Selkirk

Submitted for Selkirk Journal

RCMP East District Commander Supt. Joanne Keeping speaks about the S.T.A.R.T. program. (Brook Jones/Selkirk Journal/Postmedia Network)

RCMP East District Commander Supt. Joanne Keeping speaks about the S.T.A.R.T. program. (Brook Jones/Selkirk Journal/Postmedia Network)

The Province is investing in a community-based partnership to ensure at-risk youth in Selkirk can access co-ordinated supports to reduce contact with the law, establish healthy life goals and become successful members of society, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson announced Nov. 17.

“This partnership has proven to be incredibly successful in ensuring at-risk youth in Selkirk have every opportunity to succeed,” Stefanson said.  “Our government is proud to invest in important programs such as this because it provides measurable benefits to individuals, families and the community.”

The Selkirk Team for At-risk Teens (START) program will receive $10,000 through the province’s criminal property forfeiture program.  START manages supports for approximately 48 at-risk teens in the region.  This partnership-based approach brings together participating youth, their parents or guardians, and involved agencies on a regular basis to set positive personal goals and determine how best to achieve them.

“START is truly a role model for other community mobilization models,” RCMP East District Commander Supt. Joanne Keeping said. “Through this program, lives have been improved, families have grown stronger and the city’s overall well-being has increased.”

Many of START’s clients have been involved in the justice system and face challenges related to mental health and drugs or alcohol use.  In 2016, the program recorded some significant successes with 96 per cent of clients attending school, 86 per cent reporting improved home conditions and 76 per cent were seeing a counsellor to deal with drug- or alcohol-related issues.  Overall, START’s success rate is 93 per cent with at-risk youth, helping them improve multiple areas of their lives including improved living conditions, education, accessing resources, creating safety plans and reduced recidivism.

“Over the past 15 years, students in Lord Selkirk School Division have benefited from the support system of START,” Lord Selkirk School Division Supt. Michele Polinuk said. “Youth receive the assistance they need to be more successful in the school and community”

START partners include the Lord Selkirk School Division, RCMP, Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and several provincial government departments.  Project funders also include the City of Selkirk, Lord Selkirk School Division, rural municipalities of St. Clements and St. Andrews.

The minister also noted the province is supporting Community Mobilization in the town of Swan River, which is another partnership-based intervention program in that community.  More than $9,400 will be invested to ensure service providers can work together to anticipate and address issues that might cause individuals or families to come into contact with police, allowing them to intervene and proactively provide support.

More than $1.5 million will be distributed this year through the criminal property forfeiture program, helping police across Manitoba fight crime in their communities.  There are currently 120 active forfeiture files being pursued by the province involving vehicles, property, cash and other assets.

For more information about criminal property forfeitures, visit:

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